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Bahrain's King Hamad University Hospital Adopts Comprehensive RFID and RTLS Solution

The system combines Wi-Fi RTLS with UHF and HF passive RFID technologies and wireless sensors on a single platform, to track patients, staff members, equipment, medications and temperatures within the new state-of-the-art facility.
By Claire Swedberg
Currently, Al Khalifa says, the hospital is employing 1,200 Ekahau T301A RFID tags on such assets as IV pumps, ultrasound equipment and wheelchairs. Each tag transmits its ID number to KHUH's Wi-Fi nodes, enabling the Ekahau RTLS Controller software to determine that item's location to within approximately 2.5 meters (8.2 feet). The location data is sent to the Symphony platform, developed by Azimuth with assistance from MCT India, which displays that information via staff members' computer screens located throughout the 66,000-square-meter (710,000-square-foot) hospital, and in business reports when needed.

Each employee wears an Ekahau T301BD tag, enabling the software to provide that individual's whereabouts within the facility to authorized users. According to Hugh Haskell-Thomas, Azimuth Gulf's executive director, each patient wears an ID wristband that not only has an embedded HF passive RFID tag, but also has an Ekahau T301W tag attached to it.

To track pharmaceutical carts, pallets of goods and other large items, the hospital installed Impinj Speedway xPortals over a number of its doorways.

The UHF RFID system utilizes Omni-ID Ultra passive EPC Gen 2 tags on pallets loaded with goods transported from its warehouse, as well as on some larger products themselves, and 20 Impinj Speedway xPortals (made with Impinj's Revolution RFID readers and Dual-Linear Phased Array [DLPA] antennas) installed over the hospital's doorways and elevators, as well as at the warehouse's doorway. The UHF tags are also applied to wheeled pharmaceutical carts, enabling the system to track their movements throughout the hospital, and to issue an alert if a trolley deviates from its expected route. In some instances, staff members are using Motorola Solutions MC3190-Z handheld readers to interrogate tags attached to goods and pallets.

In January 2013, mother and infant patients will begin wearing Alien Technology passive UHF tags encased in silicone rubber wristbands, in order to link parent to child. That system also integrates with the Ekahau Wi-Fi-based RTLS technology. If the RFID and RTLS solutions determine that an unauthorized individual is attempting to take a baby through an exit, the system will issue an alert and prompt the door to lock. However, Ekahau location beacons mounted near the exit can determine if a staff member comes within the vicinity of the exit, and can then unlock the doors and terminate the alert.

To locate the tagged assets they require, nurses simply log into the system and search for the nearest item, such as an IV pump or a syringe pump. This can be accomplished directly on an Ekahau T301BD tag, by following a menu displayed on the tag's small LED screen, selecting an item (such as infusion pump or a defibrillator) and then viewing the results. Alternatively, the staff can carry out a similar search via a PC. In either case, the request is forwarded to the Symphony software, which not only identifies the closest tagged piece of equipment, but also screens out any items determined to be in need of repair or maintenance, or located within a section of the hospital far from the particular patient for whom that item is being sought.

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